…. a voice asks me, how can you still bear to live in the Nether- lands? Do you look around you or are you sleepwalking? With the arrival of sun and light, every patch of earth in this hectic city of concrete and brick has been converted into a little paradise. Gardens that have no place to enter into them and gardens that hug the walls so as not to be stepped on on pavements, gardens on rooftops and on boat tops. Gardens that are only for looking and gardens that are made for more. Gardens that have been created from captured space.
Gardens that have been carved from captured sea.
Gardens that just are… but in the place you call home.
Or is it not home, that’s why? Here in low lands, did you never know that mud and slush and salt water have been turned into gardens of Paradise. That didn’t just happen on it’s own. A whole people made it happen – century after century from the watery mass, in the Nether – lands.
With your onkruid, your ‘un-plants’ threatening the beauty, the order and nature as it should be – to inspire beyond the mundane, you who do not weed your garden, who are you?
To the ones who do weed their gardens…
I who do not weed my garden cannot be him that did.
There back home, the toil of labour in the garden was not my own. Someone came and sat on his haunches day after day in the sweltering heat, in the beating rain, in the bitter cold digging, watering, pulling, brushing.
I can only say, I look at your gardens and I look at them again. With the arrival of sun and light, I see them where I cannot enter. I glide by them as they hug the walls – a flurry of colour that stuns the eyes. I see the bees that I cannot hear as the trams roll by. For the ones who do weed their gardens I say I didn’t see my mother and father digging in the lawns. But when the maali was doing his work, sometimes, I chased the hundreds of butterflies that flitted in front of my eyes on sunny days in the garden.
And sometimes when he left, I went to lie in the shadow of his labour, amidst the flowers on the green grass, where the smell filled my nostrils. And later…later, sometime later, in a quiet moment, I had a vision of the garden he left. And I wrote:
Quick sunbeam you may
While the wind plays with the leaves
Visit my sick bed.